Razorbacks Seek First Win Over Illini
Evenly matched teams will clash in the first round of the NCAA Tournament when the Arkansas Razorbacks and Illinois Fighting Illini meet on Thursday.
The two teams match up similarly on both offense and defense, with their shooting, points scored and points allowed numbers all close together.
Arkansas and Illinois have met each other a handful of times over the years, but the Razorbacks have yet to record a win over the Illini.
According to college basketball lines, the Razorbacks are a two-point favorite against the Illini.
Arkansas Searches for Consistency
The Arkansas Razorbacks fell to Texas A&M in the conference quarterfinals after giving up a 13-point lead to the Aggies.
Arkansas’ SEC Tournament run was the tale of two offenses. Prior to its quarterfinal loss, it had a solid showing in its opening game against Auburn.
Against Auburn, the Razorbacks shot 56% to score 76 points, with four players reaching double digits. However, in its loss to the Aggies, only two players scored in double figures while Arkansas scored 61 points on 40.7% shooting.
Arkansas’ offense is one of the best in the SEC, as the Razorbacks’ 74.4 points a game are fourth in the conference. Their 47.5% field-goal percentage is first, but it doesn’t translate to beyond the arc. Arkansas shoots 31.7% on 3-pointers, 11th in the SEC.
For a team that has four players average in double figures, the Razorbacks need to utilize their balanced scoring and strong shooting to make it past the first round and beyond.
According to NCAA basketball odds, Arkansas has +7500 odds to win March Madness.
Illinois Hopes to Bounce Back
The Fighting Illini made an early exit in the Big Ten Tournament after dropping to eventual runner-up Penn State.
Illinois kept it close against the Nittany Lions with its offense playing well, but its defense couldn’t do enough to slow Penn State’s hot shooting.
The Illini are in the middle of the Big Ten defensively, with opponents averaging 67 points on 41.7% shooting against them – sixth and fourth in the conference, respectively. In Illinois’ final two losses, both teams found ways to score, averaging 77.5 points on 49.5% shooting.
Although teams were able to score against them, the Illini’s size has made them the second-best shot-blocking team in the nation, averaging 5.7 blocks a game, which could force opponents to look outside.
YOOOOO! What a block! 😤 🔥@IlliniMBB x @Sn1per_T pic.twitter.com/uI4QSyOWTO
— FOX College Hoops (@CBBonFOX) March 5, 2023
Illinois’ size could work in its favor against Arkansas, a team that’s streaky shooting the three, but the Illini will have to stay strong defensively elsewhere on the court as well.
Arkansas vs Illinois Game Injuries
Arkansas vs Illinois Head-to-Head
Arkansas and Illinois have played each other five times, with the Fighting Illini winning all five meetings. The two last matched up in December 2004 in Arkansas, when the Illini won 72-60.
According to college basketball odds, Arkansas has +2000 odds to make it to the Final Four while the sportsbook gives Illinois +2400 odds to do so.
Arkansas vs Illinois Game Information
- Game: Arkansas (20-13, 8-10 SEC) vs Illinois (20-12, 11-9 Big Ten)
- Location: Wells Fargo Arena, Des Moines, IA
- Day/Time: Thursday, March 16, 4:30 p.m. ET
- Arkansas vs Illinois Live Stream: TBS.com
Take a Look at These Special Articles For March Madness
- NCAA Midwest: Texas vs Colgate Prediction, Game Preview, Live Stream, Odds and Picks
- San Diego State vs Charleston Prediction, Game Preview, Live Stream, Odds and Picks
Arkansas vs Illinois Betting lines
Arkansas vs Illinois Picks & Prediction
The tight matchup between Arkansas and Illinois should make for an exciting game between the two that could go either way.
The teams match up well together, and even though they both started to fade toward the end of the season, the symmetry between the two should make the game competitive. Both teams are strong on defense, but Arkansas has a slight edge offensively. The Razorbacks have better shooting numbers and two more players they can rely on to score in double digits, including a recently healthy Nick Smith. Illinois will take them to the end, but take the Razorbacks in the win.
The Arkansas Razorbacks are listed at -135 in our Vegas lines. This means that if you wager $100 on the Razorbacks, you have a chance to win $74. The Illinois Fighting Illini are +115, offering a chance to win $115 on a $100 wager.
The implied probability attached to the betting lines gives the Arkansas Razorbacks a 57.45% chance to win, with the Illinois Fighting Illini at 46.51%
The odds and predictions in the article are based on the time of writing and publication. They may differ as to when the actual event takes place.